From Harford County Government:
(Bel Air, MD) – Over the last two days the Harford County Department of Public Works, Division of Water and Sewer has received numerous calls concerning cloudy or discolored water coming from the customer’s tap. The cause is manganese, a naturally occurring mineral that is present in water, soils, foods and the atmosphere. The source of the higher than normal levels in the County water system is likely the source water, Loch Raven Reservoir. The condition is temporary and the Division of Water and Sewer is taking steps to reduce the condition including enhanced chemical treatment and flushing of some mains.
The mineral is dissolved in raw water and formed after residing in the distribution system in the presence of chlorine where it forms small visible particles which results in cloudy water.
There is no known health effects associated with these elevated manganese levels in drinking water. High levels of these contaminants can result in discolored/cloudy water and an unpleasant metallic taste to the water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not set maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for manganese in the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. However manganese is monitored for aesthetic (taste and appearance) reasons.
“We feel confident that the condition is temporary and associated with seasonal changes occurring at Loch Raven Reservoir and that the operational changes at the water treatment plant and strategic flushing of the mains will preclude most or all aesthetic water quality issues,” stated Joel Caudill, Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works. “However, citizens who believe their water has an aesthetic quality problem, are encouraged to contact the Division of Water and Sewer Maintenance Department at 410-612-1612 for further assistance,” Caudill stated.